AST redundancy talks go on despite troubles at Samsung


Redundancy negotiations at AST in Limerick will continue this month, despite ominous press reports about Samsung, the firm's Korean parent company.

One Korean newspaper yesterday said Samsung would order more cutbacks and layoffs in Europe if the country's currency, the won, continued to fall. In Dublin, industry sources said discussions involving management, workers and IDA Ireland were ongoing, with meetings scheduled for at least another two weeks. A spokeswoman for AST said there had been no change in the company's plans.

Just before Christmas, AST said it was carrying out a "review" of its Limerick facility, which currently employs 430 people manufacturing computers. The move would mean making around 140 people redundant, AST said, and could also see the sale of the factory as a going concern.

But the company said it could not confirm the exact number of redundancies, nor which individual members of staff would lose their jobs. "We will make a further announcement if and when any such decision is taken," said Mr Kurt Jun, AST's vice-president for operations and marketing. A Korean newspaper said yesterday that Samsung plans to cut its overseas production by about 40 per cent, mainly by shutting down its factories abroad.

The Chosun Ilbo said some factories in Europe where costs are high would be closed.

"We have decided to cut production of home electronics products, heavy equipment and cameras by an average of 40 per cent at factories in China, Southeast Asia and Europe," the paper quoted Samsung as saying.

By contrast, the paper said, Samsung planned to expand production in Korea to increase exports and employment.

Even more worrying for AST's Irish workforce, the paper said Samsung planned to cut its overseas production further if the won weakened again. Last year, the won lost more than 50 per cent of its value against the US dollar.

Despite the announcement yesterday by US financier Mr George Soros that he was considering a "quite substantial" investment in Korea, the won lost value against the dollar, closing at 1,780 after opening at 1,630.